Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Western Avenue Project, MassDOT, and reality

1. Retaliation against bicyclists?
2. Monday night's meeting.
3. Cambridge, MassDOT, silly sidewalk bike path.

1. Retaliation against bicyclists?

The city government is supposedly furthering its enforcement of traffic laws against Cambridge’s lawless bicycle population.

The city council has spent decades not wanting to know about bicycle lawlessness. Immediately after a public works proposal for Western Avenue was announced which makes the situation worse for bicyclists on Western Avenue, the city council started getting religion on traffic enforcement against bicyclists.

It looks to me like a very bad city council is turning the screws on organized bicyclists to get support for a yet another truly bizarre proposal.

2. Monday night's meeting.

Monday night at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation meeting on the River Street and Western Avenue Bridges, I spoke twice. The second time was the main purpose for my report, praise for standing up to environmentally destructive proposals.

The first time I spoke, I addressed the comments which were tossed together at the end of the report. I concluded with a strong plea to MassDOT to manage bicycles responsibly in it s project. I commented that the silly Cambridge plans for Western Avenue are proceeding in spite of the fact that the proposal makes things worse for serious bicyclists.

Bicycles are forced to ride on part of the sidewalk on the right and swerve over to cross on a green light, and then swerve back again to get back on the sidewalk. This is total nonsense for serious commuters. The plans have no meaningful concern for left turns whatsoever.

Cambridge’s response to the trouble with its proposal is that bicycles are not required to use this silly sidewalk path, they can ride in the street. The street is narrower to make room for the silly path. So meaningful bicyclists will be forced to use a narrower roadway to get wherever they are going because of the silly path.

Clearly an inferior position.

I pled with MassDOT to responsibly manage bicycles.

At the end of my comments, a person near me broke into spontaneous applause. I think he was there to support the environmentally destructive proposal.

The situation on the bridges is worse, and the further discussion at the meeting agreed with my analysis of MassDOT following Cambridge’s silly sidewalk bike path.

There was a lot of comment on bike movement in that meeting.

There was exactly zero comment supporting MassDOT extending Cambridge’s silly sidewalk bike path.

3. Cambridge, MassDOT, silly sidewalk bike path.

The reality is that I will be very happy with MassDOT whatever MassDOT does with regard to bicycles on the bridges because MassDOT seems to be standing up to the silly highway proposal.

However, I have respect for MassDOT. MassDOT is fully aware that exactly zero people in the room supported the silly bike path. MassDOT is fully aware that the people who tend to support Cambridge’s project could very easily be supporting it because they will support anything that puts Cambridge money in the pockets of contractors.

Will MassDOT repeat Cambridge’s silliness?

Remember the people speaking most loudly for environmental destruction by their new highway spoke of a duty on the part of MassDOT to “get things done.”

They were talking like they would be talking to Cambridge or to the DCR. They were talking like an old boys club, not a responsible government agency.

Will Cambridge back down from yet another nonsensical proposal? Or will Cambridge go forward with yet another nonsensical proposal?

Suddenly enforcing bike laws (to the extent they are) says Cambridge, as usual, has no interest in reality. Ratcheting up the appearance of enforcement says that Cambridge has no interest in reality. Cambridge wants a good old boy system.

Cambridge wants obeisance. Cambridge wants its victims to praise Cambridge for screwing its victims with this silly sidewalk bike path. Cambridge is turning the screws.

MassDOT is not part of this very bizarre world.